Connections Key to Making the Grade and Reaching Goals
RETENTION

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Center for Academic Transitions Director Piér A. Quintana (right) advises a student.

There’s a robust campus-wide effort underway to increase the number of students who persist – or come back – each semester until graduation. One of the most important initiatives underway is to show students the many ways SFCC is simply here for them – for support – throughout each semester, from semester to semester, and all the way to graduation.

Two staff directors working closely with students shared some of their tips and insights for helping students reach the finish line. Heidi Weingart, Director of Advising and the First Year Experience program, encourages everyone on campus – faculty, staff and students – to reach out to new students to offer encouragement and let them know about all of the assistance the college offers: from advising and tutoring to financial aid, career counseling, clubs and study groups … even a food pantry.

“Connections are important. We were not meant to go through life or college alone,” Weingart said. “When we get to know our students individually, the rewards are significant. We might learn about challenging life issues that can sometimes become a real roadblock to their studies, and we can share ways to work through them and stay on course. We want them to know we’ve got their back. We’re here for them.”

Center for Academic Transitions Director Piér A. Quintana echoed those sentiments about making connections. She pointed out that when students set goals, they are more likely to attain results. “When students talk with faculty about career plans, it opens a dialogue that helps them determine a direction,” Quintana said. “Meaningful interactions with teachers and advisers put students on a path to success.

MEANINGFUL INTERACTIONS WITH TEACHERS AND ADVISERS PUT STUDENTS ON A PATH TO SUCCESS. FACULTY HAVE A SPECIFIC BOND WITH STUDENTS; THEY ARE UNIQUELY POSITIONED TO SMOOTH THE TRANSITION FROM BEING NEW AT COLLEGE TO GAINING CONFIDENCE, LEARNING WHAT THEIR INTERESTS ARE, AND MATCHING THOSE INTERESTS WITH A CERTIFICATE OR DEGREE PROGRAM.

Faculty have a specific bond with students; they are uniquely positioned to smooth the transition from being new at college to gaining confidence, learning what their interests are, and matching those interests with a certificate or degree program.” Weingart noted the importance of ensuring students choose a certificate or degree path. “Ironically, often the longer students are in college – particularly without direction – the less likely they are to graduate,” Weingart said.

“That’s one of the things we watch for, so we can help them keep the momentum going.” Students may tend not to look beyond the current semester, Quintana explained. “Involvement from advisers and faculty can be key to a student realizing his or her path to graduation,” Quintana said. Quintana and Weingart both pointed out that students are often also supported by their peers, student mentors and tutors.

Student interactions in classrooms, at events or as student workers all help build a student’s support system. “We know that students who support one another do well,” Weingart said. “Being in class together, working on a project, or simply having fun provide a sense of belonging that strengthens the commitment to staying in school.” “It’s tremendously gratifying to see our students on graduation day,” Weingart added. For more information, contact the Welcome and Advising Center at 505-428-1270 or wac@sfcc.edu.